Wednesday, September 1, 2010


...During our filming we kept discovering new wonders.  It just kept on getting better and better.  At the outset we thought we knew this coast pretty well but now we are totally smitten with it; the infatuation of a first love affair…

DVD DISC available:

After filming stunning coastal panoramas from Tutukaka lighthouse summit, Wellingtons Reserve trig station or curving sand-gleam beaches at Matapouri and Woolley's Bay; penetrating a tunnel at the back of Marsden Cove or entering a big hollow tree at Whale Bay we gathered sequences such as divers descending on the funnel of Waikato, a sunken warship, sliding through hatches, along passages, the wheelhouse, a pair of big gun barrels, a propeller at thirty metres on the sea floor.  Or from Matapouri bridge gliding up a crystal clear, high tide boulevard flanked by mangrove trees, fishes and shrimps darting among their branches, flounder skimming the sand.  Or the frantic nightlife of a Ngunguru estuary reef where a tropical convict grouper lurks.  We join the frenzy and rhythm and festive joy of a major waka ama race day at Kowharewa Bay; skim wave crests with board riders at Sandy Bay, or stack out on keeler yachts racing down to Goat Island in a stiff offshore breeze.  Kids zigzag their frisky Optimist dinghies across Whangaumu Bay at Sunday sailing school.  And everywhere are jaunty, bright coloured kayaks.  We've learnt that nowadays kayak prows are probing every secluded nook and rock passage along this enchanted coast, up estuaries, across broad bays, around deepwater promontories and each adventurer finds his or her own private universe…
At dusk out in the low tide estuary from the former Ngunguru motor camp on Papaka Rd, [best place for sunsets] the wading birds are silhouetted on rippling black velvet as beaks probe and spear prey:  All is silent now but for the liquid plop of a rapier beak or the shrill warning cries of a bossy oystercatcher.  Upstream the sun, bound for Aussie, sends out spokes of light over the steep dome of Cape Horn and the Old Cemetery. 
At dawn a silver carpet extends from Cabbage Tree Bay 25 k to the silhouetted Poor Knights.  There is no wind. The tide is low.  Twin arms of the bay seem to reach for the offshore islands.  The whole, forested haven with its elaborate, bush-shrouded Maori pa site, is holding its breath. Perhaps, because of its long association with Stone Age humans who left so little impression on the landscape, this seems to me the most spiritual place on the coast and its wilderness values are supreme.  I imagine that unique full moon night in the year when brown eyes surrounded by tattooed faces look out along a river of silver to where Marama is rising in the gap between two islands, each not quite a perfect reflection of the other.
On rugged, exposed promontories, especially at Whale Bay and Tutukaka Lighthouse Reserve, Jan and I poked our lenses at fragile and delicate sun orchids, magenta, cornflower blue or pure white.  After a lifetime exploring the marvels of marine life, the cameras of two veteran divers recorded, month by month the moving feast of coastal forest flowers as we marvelled at the unexpected beauty of such tiny, insignificant blooms.  That is an important aspect of the New Zealand bush, probably because of the nature of the pollinators: there are so many inconspicuous flowerings, especially rewarding to the keen eyed discoverer.  Hidden jewels.  Not so the gorgeous gold of the kowhais, the virginal white of the clematis and the eye candy crimson of pohutukawas.  Our film tries to inventory them all for the visitor, establishing each tree and then zooming in closer than the unaided eye can see.
Looking back on it all now I recall that Jan and I got a great many pleasant shocks.  So many new discoveries in an area we thought familiar to us.  So much more for the traveller to enjoy with a little guidance.

DVD DISC available:

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